§ Mr. Hanley
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether there has been any progress in trying to secure action to be taken against those who send out bogus fax invoices from addresses both within the United Kingdom and from abroad; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Forth
The Unsolicited Goods and Services Acts 1971 and 1975 provide that any demand for payment in respect of a directory entry which has not been ordered by the person concerned is an offence, and the recipient of the demand is not liable to pay for it. The Acts seem to have proved effective in controlling such practices by firms within the United Kingdom.
For invoices originating from overseas we liaise with the authorities in the countries involved. They share our concern but attempts at legal action in their courts have not to date proved effective. Many of the invoices originate from Switzerland and the Swiss have taken legal action under a new law on unfair competition which came into force in 1988. The outcome of this action is not expected until later this year.